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7 ideas for cross-promotion with other small businesses

With shrinking budgets for small businesses, cross-promotion is an age old method professionals use to spread word about their company. There are 7 methods that can expand your reach ranging from print to web cross-promotion, many at no cost at all.

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Spreading word about your business

Getting the word out about your small business takes a lot of work. You start out by enlisting the help of close friends, family members, and current and previous business associates. But soon that isn’t enough to get you to your end goal—a solid professional reputation and an increased profit. While there are thousands of ways to advertise your business, there are often monetary constraints for small business pros. Even with these constraints and limitations, small businesses can effectively market their brands through cross-promotion with other, complementary small businesses.

Print collateral

Display print collateral – One of the simplest ways to cross-promote is by displaying or distributing print collateral—brochures, calendars, business cards, and flyers—in a waiting room, next to the cash register, or mailed with statements, invoices, or business correspondence. When you’ve found the right business—or several businesses—to pair with, trade printed material. This will ensure that your business is made visible to potential customers, customers that would ultimately benefit from your products or services. If you’re looking for a low-friction way of cross-promoting your brand, this is it.

Events

Co-sponsor an event – This will allow you to cut your event costs in half, and it ensures you get the other company’s audience and customers in attendance, which will only benefit your company’s marketing efforts and outreach. Depending on the nature of your business, you can choose to hold a local, national, or even online event geared toward your target audience. Whichever you choose, make sure all companies with which you’re cross-promoting have equal visibility. This will strengthen your professional relationships now so they can still be of use to you in the future.

Incentives

Start a referral program – Offer discounts or rewards for those customers who refer business to your partner’s store and vice versa. This is a fantastic way to create a network of consumers. Remember, again, this only works if you cross-promote a complementary business rather than a competing one. The latter is rarely a good idea. A referral program will encourage your customers to spread the word about your business and your cross-promotion partner’s business. Everyone benefits.

Mailers

Swap mailing lists – While this effort obviously gives you even more potential customers, the ethics of such an act continues to be debated. After all, haven’t we all been annoyed when we’ve discovered a company has sold or traded our information? Instead of swapping all the information on your mailing lists, you can provide your current customers and clients the option of being contacted by a partner or affiliate. Alternatively, featuring a peripheral business to yours on mailers to your clients while being featured on mailers to their clients is a common method for this type of swap. This will keep your professional reputation unsoiled and give you the opportunity to lengthen your own mailing list.

Web efforts

Trade online content – While this type of cross-promotion requires a lot of valuable time in creating the content, it’s one of the most beneficial ways to market your brand on a small budget—or even if you have a large budget, for that matter. Write a guest blog post, general website content, or informative, on-topic articles. This online content can help establish your reputation as being knowledgeable in your field or industry. If you can write content that is informative and valuable, you’ll have a stream of users checking out your site, too. The challenge here is in finding like partners that would mutually benefit.

Seminars

Offer a workshop or educational class – You and your cross-promotion partner can hold an educational workshop or class that’s related to your industry. Each of you—or a representative of your business—should speak or teach a class, but also include other guest speakers or teachers. The more valuable information you provide to the attendees, the more in-demand your workshop or class will be. Having as many influential “experts” involved will only increase the hype of your educational event.

Co-office

Share valuable office space – Just as tax accountants temporarily take up residence in major grocery stores during tax season, consider sharing valuable office space with your partner, and vice versa. It can be a small office, booth, or even right outside the front door. Hand out brochures, business cards, and be available to answer questions or to pass out free samples. This method can be more effective than just having your partner display your print collateral, because your potential customers can put a face to a brand, which makes your business more relatable and personable. It doesn’t matter if you set up one of your employees there permanently or you only use some space a few times a month, this is a great way to network with your target audience.

Cross-promotion is an easy way to market your business directly to the right consumers and while sticking to your marketing budget. Partnering with a complementary business expands your professional outreach, betters your reputation in your industry, and puts you in contact with the right people at the right time. Consider your cross-promotion options carefully and be selective about potential partners, as the wrong partner can have as much of an impact on your business as the right one.

The American Genius Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Steve Martin

    March 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    All great, inexpensive ideas for small business owners! Great article!

  2. Maria Eves

    April 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    7 ideas for cross-promotion with other small businesses hey thanks for that Charlene…really truly a great insight to the many ways..

  3. Pingback: 3 Inexpensive Marketing Ideas to Reach A Large Local Audience

  4. Pingback: Offices to let near Brinnington - Pear Mill

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Business Marketing

PHD job seekers shouldn’t scare employers, they should be welcomed

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It’s time to change the narrative for PhD candidates on the job market. They have been through so much and can contribute just as much to your company

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phd grad

Employers have historically been skeptical of hiring PhD graduates for jobs, but it’s time for that to change. It seems counterintuitive, but many employers are scared of candidates who bring such a high level of education to the table. They worry that PhD graduates will ask for too much money, get bored with the work, or not be able to perform in a non-academic setting.

PhD graduates may come from an academic background, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be a valuable asset to your business. As for them asking for too much money, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but academics are not exactly swimming in pools of gold. People don’t go into academics because they want to get rich quick – or at all. By earning their degree, PhD graduates have proven that they possess dedication and grit to persevere in an environment that requires resourcefulness and strong problem-solving abilities.

Another common fear employers have about PhD graduates is whether or not the work will be interesting enough to keep them around long-term. The reality is this is something you should be concerned about for all of your potential new hires not just graduates. Keeping your employees engaged in the work can be one of the most challenging parts of running a business. PhD candidates want the same things as everyone else. Indeed recently talked to an expert on the subject, Vay Cao, the founder of Free the PhD, a company dedicated to helping postgrads find their place in the workforce. She says, “What PhD candidates are looking for is that opportunity to prove themselves [and] learn some new things.”

PhD graduates have long suffered from these misconceptions, but modern business owners have the opportunity to change the narrative. By ignoring graduates, you miss out on the wealth of opportunities their experiences offer your business. PhD graduates are often innovators in their fields with excellent presentation and inter-personal skills. These candidates can bring unique skill sets and experiences to your business that may give you that extra edge on the market.

At the end of the day, your priority as a business owner will be to do what’s best for your business. Hiring and interviewing candidates from a wide range of backgrounds will always be to your benefit. Take advantage of these unique and highly educated candidates. They are an asset you can’t afford to ignore anymore.

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Business Marketing

Remote company Zima says that remote jobs are the way of the future

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Remote working has been increasing over the years, even with it’s success there are worries about if it is sustainable. One company says absolutely

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remote worker

It’s no secret that remote working has increased across all industries over the last few years. It seems we’ve – somewhat – moved past the misconceptions of remote workers just being people who “work” from their couch while in their pajamas watching Netflix.

However, there is still some raised eyebrows about the concept of remote working. Chief Growth Officer and co-founder of Zima Media, Michael Zima, has run across some of this skepticism, as his marketing company is run 100 percent remotely.

“When you say that you are “remote,” there is an automatic backlash that you are just “outsourcing” with a ribbon on top,” said Zima. “I don’t know when being a “digital nomad” became more prestigious than working from home as a remote worker.”

According to a recent report by Fiverr, about seven percent of the workforce in the United States would be considered freelance, with the cities most active in the freelance game being New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. This number, Zima thinks, is likely higher due to the fact that you technically only need to be connected to the Internet outside of the office to be considered working remotely.

When combatting the non-believers in remote working, Zima uses a variety of methods. “The most significant point we stress to counteract it is we are doing work in an office setting at home or in a co-working space,” said Zima. “We are not surfing somewhere or taking selfies about how great we are in life. That is something reserved for a vacation, and I cannot connect play and work because I prefer to keep them separate.”

He also says that there are cost-savings galore when choosing to run a remote business. Not only are you saving on things like commuting, you’re also saving on overhead costs by not paying for an office space.

“The client received the cost-cutting benefits that are usually marked up by a business with a physical location, and this makes mutual business sense,” explained Zima. “This is the most disruptive development that is emerging from remote workers — counteracting this trend maps back to arranging deck furniture on the Titanic because the labor force goes remote in the coming years will continue to surge.”

Past the fact that his employees work remotely, Zima asserts that everything is business as usual in terms of operations. They have standard means of communication, such as email, a shared-communication platform, and Skype. In addition, how the leader works remotely sets the trend for his employees.

“The biggest drawback that crosses everyone’s mind at the beginning of being remote is job security. When you walk into an office and see dozens and even hundreds of smiling (I hope) people you know that you are a part of something more substantial,” said Zima.

“Connecting with a company is essential, and when you are on the other side of the laptop, it’s hard to fathom all of this working out. It’s a genuine threat even when you become established because the way we work is still foreign to remote workers. When we stop measuring remote workers by the traditional office worker standard, it will free up some of the bias a remote worker may have. It’s a trend that has no rulebook, no guide, and almost unlimited upside to be your boss and stay true to your identity.”

At the end of the day, Zima’s mantra which includes five points: be accountable, be a self-starter, improve communication, manage tasks better, and make time for work and life.

This has proved to be successful for Zima, who has been working with his business partner for over four years, and the two have yet to meet in-person.

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Business Marketing

Google tests new layouts for shopping results (good to know for your own website)

(MARKETING) Do grids or lists help conversions more? Google tested it out, and the answer is: It depends.

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google shopping

Keen-eyed folks at GoodUI have noticed a slight change in Google shopping results. Google seems to be A/B testing a grid layout instead of a list. Theoretically, a grid would deliver more options in less screen space. It sacrifices a little bit of info along the way. But Google addresses that with an inline expanded view. You click a thumbnail, and Google expands the result, showing you a larger image, along with more product details.

It’s more or less what Google Images already does. You can browse thumbnails, click one for more info, and click through if you want to visit the site that their image came from.

Right now, the grid view isn’t available for every search. Odds are that they’re A/B testing for every result, and then defaulting to whichever one leads to more sales.

Of course, there’s a lesson here for anyone who sells products online. The way that you present information on the Internet can make a huge difference. If a company like Google thinks that it’s worth devoting the time and resources to test this across who knows how many thousands of searches, you probably ought to play with your own store layout a little bit to see what it does to sales.

Google’s constantly making tweaks in an attempt to make their user experience smoother. Their business hinges on a handful of factors, and the biggest one is trust. That means trustworthiness in data security (After all, they literally track you everywhere, through Google Maps, even sending you a monthly summary of where you’ve been.) It also means delivering what you need (and what advertisers want you to see) as efficiently possible.

Of course, not all of those changes are visible. Google is constantly updating the algorithms that serve you information, both globally and for searches with local intent. But if you’re not doing SEO work, odds are that doesn’t affect you as much. (Or if it does, there’s not a lot you can do about it without hiring SEO experts.)

At the time of this writing, you can see the new view for yourself by searching Shopping results for “flowers.” But what’s the takeaway for you?

If your business’ products have a big visual or aesthetic focus, a grid layout may work better.

If your product differentiators are mostly technical details, a list layout can help people make those comparisons a little more easily.

The point is that there are always little things that you can tweak to make your website more efficient – even Google continues to tweak!

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